Some fun with ‘Left Behind’

by Richard on January 18, 2007

Slacktivist has been running a commentary on the ‘Left Behind’ series for a little while, and if you’re interested in the LB phenomenon, it is well-worth reading. I admire the fellow’s tenacity: to write a commentary you actually have to read the stuff. I got about a third of the way through the first one before I had to give up.

A slightly different approach comes from Mick LaSalle, who is writing an online novel titled The Event. It starts with an interesting premise: Imagine if everything the Religious Right believes about the End Times is true, except the Rapture doesn’t take them and the antichrist turns out to be their favorite politician…
Here’s a few lines from the opening chapter

The president’s game plan for the second presidential debate was thrown into confusion when, midway into answering a question on the Middle East war, he heard a swooshing sound and turned to see that his Democratic challenger had disappeared.

I was doing a rolling commentary on my blog, alternating between looking at the living room TV and looking down at my computer, but I caught the big moment of the night – the big moment of modern recorded history, as it turned out. The president was strutting the stage, waving his arms and laughing at his own jokes, while in the background, sitting on a stool, Senator Drucker watched with a look of sardonic patience, as though witnessing the ravings of a nasty but harmless child. You could say he was giving the president the benefit of the doubt. And then a second later, the Senator was gone. Vanished.

In that moment, despite the fact that I had drunk two vodka martinis just to get through the debate, I thought a number of things in rapid succession. I thought at first that my eyes were playing tricks or that the camera had changed angles without my noticing. Then I thought that maybe the Senator had staged his own disappearance, as a curious stunt of dubious electoral value. And finally, as a second later the sounds of panic swept through the town hall audience, I thought Senator Drucker was the victim of some secret weapon that vaporized people.

Most people thought the latter. What makes me more paranoid than most is that I immediately suspected another thing, as well – that if the Senator had been the victim of a secret weapon, it was probably on orders from the president. For the four years of this president’s administration, there had been a suspicion on the part of many that if President Lyle B. East had his way, he’d preside over a fascist state. Like a dictator, he had used the language of a religious crusade to enlist support for some crazy policies –including the starting of three unnecessary wars (ongoing), the tripling of the national debt and the devaluation of the currency. His most passionate supporters came from the religious heartland and seemed immune to newspapers, books, and discernible fact in every form. Clearly, the land of the free and the home of the brave was being turned into the land of the stupid and the home of the easily frightened and manipulated, and the prospect of four more years of East was unthinkable. Hence, my need to watch the debate shit-faced and my concentration on the Senator, who had become, by default, the hope of sane mankind.

In fact, had I been looking at the president, I’d have recognized, from his dumbfounded expression, that he’d had nothing to do with this. He was lost.

After a few seconds of stunned confusion, the crowd noise swelled, and a woman shrieked, “He’s gone! He’s gone!”Everyone assumed she was talking about the Senator, but as the field camera swung into place and zoomed in on the woman, it was clear she was distraught about the empty seat next to her – a seat that presumably had had someone in it. Then, as the voice of the moderator – an old golfing buddy of the president – tried to still the crowd, the camera backed up to reveal a room in which a quarter of the seats, previously filled, were now vacant. “Calm down everyone. Everything is under control,” the moderator said.

But nothing was under control. The president stood holding the microphone, flummoxed. “Hey,” he said, touching at his right ear for reasons that still remain a mystery. “Is somebody gonna tell me what’s goin’ on?”

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }


kim fabricius 01.19.07 at 12:05 am

Great strategy, (as it were) showing one’s whole behind to Left Behind. The powerful, arrogant, and self-righteous can handle criticism or indifference, and even hatred, but satire, laughter, ridicule at the emperor and his court’s nakedness - then their days are numbered. Great to see the spirit of Swift - or I should say Mark Twain - alive and well in “the land of the stupid and the home of the easily frightened and manipulated.” Yes, rest of the world, there are plenty of Americans who are intelligent (there I go again!) and won’t be bullied - and who know a bad joke when they see one, and can tell a good one.


Rick O'Donnell 01.19.07 at 2:52 am

I couldn’t quite make it all the way through the Left Behind series, though I tried mightily. This work of Mick Lasalle’s in the other hand is eminently readable. Great stuff, IMHO.


kim fabricius 01.19.07 at 8:40 am

Apropos political piss-taking there was a great obituary of the American newspaper humorist Art Buchwald in the Independent this morning. I hadn’t heard that this Pulitzer Prize winning journalist had died (on Wednesday), and I was saddened. I remember as a teenager waiting each evening for my father to arrive home from work with the New York Post (which was quite different in the sixties from what it has morphed into); I would quickly turn to Buchwald’s column for his ascerbic but unmalicious observations and wit. The obituary quotes Buchwald himself on his gift: “All my life I have been able to sense a person’s weak spot. . . I use humour as a way to insult. For me being funny is the best revenge.”

The obituary (by the Independent’s fine US correspondent Rupert Cornwall) notes that the Bush presidency gave Buchwald a surfeit of material to lampoon, even after he had had a stroke. It ends with a quote which confirms what I said earlier this week about Martin Luther King Day: “If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it.”

My sadness to day is heaven’s laughter. I can almost hear the hilarity!


DH 01.19.07 at 3:39 pm

Kim, do you really have to go over the top with people who believe in that type of eschatology? I never call your version of eschatology stupid. Also, when it says the dead in Christ will rise and those that remain will be caught up to meet Christ in the clouds what would you say to that in the grand scheme? To reject the physical second coming of Christ and the “catching away to meet Him in the clouds” seems strange in light of Paul saying encourage each other with these words. In light of that I don’t feel encouraged by your words opposite of what Scripture says on this one.


John 01.20.07 at 3:22 am

I admire the fellow’s tenacity: to write a commentary you actually have to read the stuff. I got about a third of the way through the first one before I had to give up.

I managed to get through the fourth novel on tape on long car rides, but I won’t question the courage of anyone who couldn’t stomach that tripe.

The Left Behind series was a great idea horribly executed. Jenkins and LeHaye desperately needed to hire a consultant in speculative fiction, just as Newt Gingrich hired William Forschten.


Wood 01.21.07 at 1:56 pm

The pre-tribulationist Rapture is not a stupid eschatology: it’s an heretical one. Let’s call a spade a spade here. It’s at variance with traditional Christian orthodoxy, an invention of a schismatic sect (this one in Scotland) that was one of a great number from the era that brought us Christian Spiritualism, Christian Science, Christadelphians, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.

Before the 19th century, not one orthodox Christian church believed in it.

One might argue that there still aren’t any orthodox Christians that believe in it, but if I said that, I’d be saying so solely to wind people up.

So I won’t.

I’ll just think it and keep quiet about it.


DH 01.22.07 at 5:10 pm

Wood, to call it heretical is a big stretch. The point is Christ WILL come back physically and there will be a rapture which is written as a definition “dead in Christ will rise first and those that remain in Christ will be caught away to meet Him in the air.”

Do you believe in the physical return of Christ? I will make a statement based on your answer to this question.


Wood 01.22.07 at 9:39 pm

Not playing that game. Nice try, though.

Show me a Christian writer or preacher from before 1820 who believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture.

And you’re not allowed to whine “but I asked first”. Because I say so.


DH 01.22.07 at 9:47 pm

If you’re not going to play that game then I’m not either. I will ask again “Do you believe in the physical return of Christ?”. If you are going to throw the term “heretic” around you need to be willing to open yourself up discussion of the questions. “pot calling the kettle black”.


DH 01.22.07 at 9:57 pm

To show I’m the better person and at least “care” about you Wood I will add these additional statements for your clarification of my position. However, I will not answer your question until you answer mine.

You may be a nitpicky person with people who are pre-trib. but I’m not. The bigger issue is premillinial as opposed to pre-mid or post trib. While I lean toward pre-trib. I don’t strongly disagree with those who are mid or post. However, I will over those who don’t believe in premillinal. What I have found from those who are premillinal but differ in timeframe in relation to the tribulation is that it is a matter of the chronilogical nature of Revelation. Pre and mid tribs read Revelation literal and chronological while post tribs read it literal but not chronological. For me it is the literal part that is the issue and how the 1st century church anxiously awaited the physical reutrn of Christ so much so that they used the term “encourage each other with these words”.

Again, I will answer your question when you answer my question. I at least deserve that much for someone who is throwing the term “heretic” or un-Orthodox or whatever so loosely.

Also, my discussions are never games it is a basis for understanding rather than using terms like “heretic” which I have never used if you have read my preios posts historically.


Wood 01.23.07 at 8:13 am

And thus, I win.



DH 01.23.07 at 6:02 pm

Win, how can you say you win? This wasn’t a competition but dialogue. I’m sorry you are so hostile that you think this has to be a competition. I’m sorry you can’t at least be the better person. I at least have.


malc 01.23.07 at 7:11 pm

Don’t worry DH, I agree with you.


DH 01.23.07 at 7:40 pm

Thanks, malc. :)


Wood 01.23.07 at 10:16 pm

I’m sorry you can’t at least be the better person.

I’m not. It’s more fun this way.

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